Sharks explode to put out Flames' playoff hopes

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Sharks explode to put out Flames' playoff hopes

March 23, 2011

BOX SCORE SHARKS VIDEONHLPAGE NHLSCOREBOARD
SAN JOSE (AP) Patrick Marleau has scored more goals than anyone in San Jose history so seeing him score twice was no surprise for the Sharks. Getting the first two-goal game of Torrey Mitchell's career and the first goal ever from Andrew Desjardins was a different story.Marleau scored the final two goals in San Jose's four-goal first period and Mitchell also scored twice as the Sharks closed in on second place in the Western Conference by beating the sliding Calgary Flames 6-3 on Wednesday night."It's great to have everybody contribute," Marleau said. "We'll need more of that coming down the stretch. It's the way we're built and it's the way things should happen. Everybody should have fun scoring goals."
VIDEO: Patrick Marleau postgame
Logan Couture also scored as the Pacific Division-leading Sharks got goals from all four lines to win their fourth straight game. San Jose increased its division lead over Phoenix to three points with a game at hand.
VIDEO: Logan Couture postgame
San Jose is also only one point behind Detroit for second in the conference and home-ice advantage in the first two rounds after the Red Wings lost 2-1 to Vancouver earlier Wednesday."We knew they had lost," forward Ryane Clowe said. "I don't know if that was extra motivation or anything. They're definitely in striking distance. We have an opportunity to jump into second and get that home ice. It gives us something to strive for right now. The way we're playing we have a good chance to pass them."
VIDEO: Ryane Clowe postgame
The Sharks dealt another blow to the Flames' playoff hopes. Calgary got goals from Jarome Iginla, Rene Bourque and Cory Sarich, but lost for the sixth time in seven games.The Flames are two points behind Anaheim for eighth place in the West, but have played three more games than the Ducks, giving them little room for error in their final six games."We've been in a little bit of a rut in our last five or six games," Iginla said. "We're not coming out and playing as confident or assertive as we need to. In the first period to give up four goals is not going to win you many games. It's unacceptable. Obviously it's a tough loss at this time of year."Calgary's previous two losses came in overtime, but the Flames were unable to earn a point in this game. They trailed 5-3 heading into the third. After an early fight between Clowe and Sarich provided a little excitement, Antti Niemi came up with key saves. The Sharks then put it away midway through the period.Couture, who had to be helped off the ice with a scary right leg injury in San Jose's previous game, beat Miikka Kiprusoff on a 2-on-1 break for his 28th goal with 8:05 remaining.Niemi made 22 saves to get the victory in his 29th consecutive start.The teams traded goals in the second period as the Sharks maintained the two-goal lead they held after the first. Bourque beat Niemi with a backhand, wraparound midway through the period to draw the Flames within one.But Calgary fell back behind by two when Mitchell got to a loose puck after a scramble in front of the net and knocked it in for his ninth goal of the season with 6:40 left in the period. Mitchell has five goals in seven games after scoring just 16 in his first 189 as he has clicked on a line with Joe Pavelski and Kyle Wellwood."It's amazing when you start to feel it and you feel comfortable and confident on the ice, things happen for you," coach Todd McLellan said.
VIDEO: Todd McLellan postgame
The Sharks used their highest-scoring first period in more than two years to jump out to a 4-2 lead. The teams alternated on the first four goals before Marleau struck with two in the final 5:01 to give San Jose the lead.On the first he raced to a loose puck near the blue line and beat his former San Jose teammate, Kiprusoff, with a backhand for his 30th of the season and 350th in his career. Marleau added his second less than 3 minutes later when he knocked a rebound into the open net for a power-play goal with Alex Tanguay in the box for holding.The four goals were the most in a first period for San Jose since also scoring four against Toronto on Dec. 2, 2008."We got off our game and fundamentally had some breakdowns," Flames coach Brent Sutter said. "They took advantage of it. They are a very good hockey team. We can't play that way for the rest of the season."Notes: San Jose's final eight games of the season will be against division foes, including three against Phoenix. ... Calgary D Jay Bouwmeester played in his 500th consecutive game, the longest current streak in the league. ... Flames F Greg Nemisz, a first-round pick in 2008, made his NHL debut and was on the ice for San Jose's first two goals.

Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

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USATSI

Despite loss, Sharks 'in a good spot' headed into bye week

SAN JOSE – Despite what was technically their sixth loss in the last eight games, the Sharks seemed to put more stock in the point they gained in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Bruins on Sunday night at SAP Center, rather than the one they left on the table.

They have that luxury. 

The Sharks will enter their bye week five points ahead of Edmonton and Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division, and figure they’re due for some time off after a short summer followed by a World Cup for some, and a brutal condensed NHL schedule for all.

“[We’ve] showed up and played hard,” Joe Pavelski said. “We’ve been in a lot of games. Games we’ve lost, we’ve battled. There hasn’t been any cheat in [our] game. Defensively, we’ve been strong. There’s a lot of good areas in our game that we like right now.”

Playing in the second of a back-to-back against a Bruins team had was coming off of its own bye week, the Sharks fell behind 1-0 on a first period goal by Ryan Spooner, but notched a Patrick Marleau equalizer in a second period in which they outshot the Bruins 16-9. An evenly played third period gave way to overtime, where Brad Marchand scored on a breakaway to give the Bruins their fourth straight win since changing head coaches.

The Sharks spoke before the weekend about finishing the final two games strong before the respite. They ended up gaining three of four points, including Saturday’s 4-1 win in Arizona, and were pleased with their effort against the Bruins as they capped off 10 games in 20 days since the All-Star break.

“It was an important push into this break,” Pete DeBoer said. “To go in up [five points] on the next closest team is a real testament to our group.”

Paul Martin said: “I thought we played pretty well, considering the back-to-back with some travel, and a team that was waiting for us.”

Perhaps the most encouraging performance came from Martin Jones, who was one of a number of Sharks players that was looking particularly fatigued lately. The goaltender entered the game with a 1-0-2 record, 4.46 goals-against average and .837 save percentage in his last four starts, including getting pulled after the first period in Boston just 10 days ago.

Jones was impressive, though, making a vital pad stop on the dangerous David Pastrnak in front of the net midway through the third period to keep it a 1-1 score.

“It was a good game. Two teams playing hard,” Jones said. “We can take a lot of positives from that one. It was a good hard game, just didn’t go our way tonight.”

Overtimes have been an issue lately, though. The Sharks have lost their last four games decided during the three-on-three, all coming within the last two weeks. As satisfied as they are with their cushion in the division, it could have been cushier.

Against the Bruins, Tuukka Rask denied Brent Burns on a two-on-one in overtime, and Marchand scored off of the ensuing faceoff, blowing the zone past Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and corralling a long toss from Torey Krug before sliding it home.

“We get to overtime, shootouts – we expect to get that extra point,” Pavelski said. “We haven’t found it lately. We’ll just keep looking for it.”

DeBoer said: “The points are critical, they’re valuable. I don’t read a lot into [overtime decisions], we’ve won our share over the time I’ve been here. We had a chance to win tonight, too. … I concentrate on the effort, and I thought we got better as the game went on.”

Being focused and energized, as they have been most of the season to this point, shouldn’t be a problem when the season resumes next Saturday in Vancouver. The Sharks are in prime position to win their first division title since 2010-11, and a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final is a distinct possibility.

Losing six of eight won’t be nearly as acceptable coming out of the break as it apparently is going into it, but that’s not something to worry about now, even after another defeat. 

“There are some games you wish you could get back and get those points, but we’re still in a good spot,” Marleau said.

Trading Cousins is the ultimate Kingstastic move

Trading Cousins is the ultimate Kingstastic move

There was a lot of complaining about the lack of defense in this year’s All-Star Game, as though last year’s All-Star Game didn’t happen.

But the Most Valuable Player, which was putatively Anthony Davis for scoring a record 52 points in front of his home crowd, was actually the man with the fewest minutes of all.

Yes, the man, the god, The DeMarcus Cousins. The Very Definition Of A Sacramento King, By Becoming An Ex-Sacramento King.

Cousins, now the second-best player on the New Orleans Pelicans, played only two minutes Sunday, the lowest total by any All-Star since Connie Hawkins in 1971, ostensibly because he told head coach Steve Kerr he was a little ouchy, but more likely because the Kings were frantically trying to trade him and didn’t want him hurting himself in a game with even no contact whatsoever.

Not during the All-Star Break, mind you. DURING THE ALL-STAR GAME ITSELF! Adam Silver must have been vomiting hedgehogs into a bucket at the very thought.

As it turns out, the Kings, who have sworn up and down that they would never consider trading Cousins, did that very thing, closing a deal to send Cousins and forward Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for a first and second-round pick in the upcoming draft, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway (who is likely to be waived in true Kings fashion) and 2016 first-rounder Buddy Hield.

You remember Buddy Hield. He’s the guy who clocked Cousins in the joy division going around a Cousins pick during the last Pelicans-Kings game, and got tossed for doing so.

In other words, the Kings prefer the guy who punched their best player in the goolies to their best player. This is so Kingsy.

But on the back end, Cousins’ agent, Jarinn Akana, said Cousins is disinclined to sign a long-term contract with his next team, making him a rental who could some day return to Sacramento in a Groundhog's Day remake that would cause the Oroville Dam to get up and walk off the job.

This too is so Kingsy.

This is the greatness of the Kings. They blew up the All-Star weekend during the game itself. They blew it up trying to get rid of their best player when they are within fighting distance of their first playoff spot in 11 years. They blew it up after saying they weren’t considering trading the dynamite at all.

Kingsy, Kingsy, Kingsy. It’s Kingstastic!

And the best part of it all is that the trade leaves everyone deflated and confused and ultimately angry, while the Kings undervalued their only marketable player to invest in a future they have mocked for decades.

You know what we;’re talking about. Gimme a K! Gimme an I! Gimme an N-G-S, throw an extraneous Y on the end of it what does it spell?

Yeah. Right.

It’s remarkable thing, being a King. While we have all amused ourselves with the machinations of the thick-as-two-short-planks New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, the Kings have been Kinging this way for most of the last 35 years.

And now, they have decided to feed their obsession with the Golden State Warriors by running even further away from them, by tossing their only bargaining chip for a future player or players that they typically ruin, and Buddy Hield, who just found out that even at these prices life can still be cruel.

Give them their due, though. The Kings could win the NBA title and hock the trophy. They could be invited to the White House when the President is off playing golf. They could increase their Forbes valuation to $5 billion and declare bankruptcy.

Because they are the Kings, and that sentence has rarely meant more than it does now.

Not because they traded Cousins. Trades happen all the time. Wilt Chamberlain got traded twice.

But the Kings handled this with all the skill of a pickpocket with feet where his hands should be. They lied unconvincingly. They talked hard business and ended up with a nebulous deal that guarantees nothing except more speculation come summer. And they have nothing else to trade between now and . . . well, whenever they stopped being so damned Kingsy.

For New Orleans, it is a roll of the dice, an attempt to make the playoffs with a two-headed monster in Cousins and Davis. It may be too much to giver, but without knowing how the Kings will screw up those picks, it remains speculative at best.

Indeed, this is subtraction by subtraction, the standard Kings deal. And whatever the Kings have gained in this trade (hey, you never know), we remain safe in saying that they did it in such a Kingsy way that they may never top this.

Until the next time they do anything at all. Never doubt the power of Kingsiness.